Muscle pain can be nothing short of excruciating. It impacts our sleep and keeps us sidelined from our favorite activities. Providers may prescribe muscle relaxers when we’re injured or in intense pain. Prescription medication can be a valuable tool on a short-term basis while we seek solutions for the root causes of our pain. But they can have severe side effects when used long-term. It’s best to treat your muscle pain with orthopaedic care and physical therapy instead of simply masking the symptoms.
What Are Muscle Relaxers?
Muscle relaxers are prescription medications that relax the muscles and prevent spasms. Most prescriptions target your central nervous system, while others work directly on your muscle tissue. Most prescription muscle relaxers are centrally-acting antispasmodics to treat occasional back spasms and pain. Common muscle relaxers include Methocarbamol, Metaxalone, Cyclobenzaprine and Carisoprodol. Providers sometimes prescribe benzodiazepines like Valium and Ativan for muscle pain. Doctors use anti-spastic medications like Baclofen and Tizanidine for patients with severe neurological conditions, including spinal cord injuries or multiple sclerosis.
What Are The Problems Associated with Muscle Relaxers?
Muscle relaxers are intended for short-term use because they have adverse side effects, including the potential for dependence and addiction. In the case of Carisoprodol (brand name Soma) and benzodiazepines, the medications’ tranquilizing effect makes them particularly addictive. Providers must be cautious when prescribing these Schedule IV drugs. Other muscle relaxers can have side effects ranging from dizziness and fatigue to depression and liver and kidney problems. When used on a short-term basis, the benefits of these drugs often outweigh the downsides. However, long-term treatment should focus on tackling the root cause of pain.
When Does Taking Medication for Muscle Pain Make Sense?
Providers prescribe muscle relaxers for legitimate reasons. They help treat acute pain after an injury or surgery as the patient recovers. They can help patients get through the most painful weeks as they develop recovery strategies and work to rebuild strength and mobility. Muscle relaxers can also help on a long-term basis for severe neurological conditions with ongoing medical supervision. If you have an injury, it’s essential to identify and address the cause of your pain. Muscle relaxers are not a long-term solution.
How Can I Treat Muscle Pain Without Drugs?
Patients should work with their orthopaedic team to determine what’s causing their pain and treat it accordingly. Most muscle injuries are sprains or strains. We can treat them effectively with a robust physical therapy program. Physical therapy offers a range of solutions for muscle pain. The most important thing is strengthening the muscles to create stability and prevent reinjury. Some of our PT tools include:
- Hot and cold therapy to reduce pain and inflammation.
- Electrotherapy can reduce muscle spasms and pain and boost the range of motion.
- Ultrasound therapy provides deep heating treatment to your muscles.
- Dry needling targets myofascial trigger points to relieve pain and stiffness.
- Stretching and range of motion exercises relax muscles and improve flexibility.
- Strength-focused activities support your back, core, and other muscle groups.
- Hands-on manipulation and therapeutic massage provide pain relief and improve mobility.
How Can My Orthopaedic Practice Help With Muscle Pain?
When you’re in pain, there are times when medications are needed. Muscle relaxers can temporarily address acute pain, providing much-needed relief for patients. However, they’re not a long-term solution. We need to get to the root causes of your pain instead of masking it with medications. Whether you’ve experienced an injury or have a chronic condition interfering with your quality of life, your orthopaedist can help. At Countryside Orthopaedics & Physical Therapy, our team has helped patients from elite athletes to seniors overcome pain without medications. We have one of the region’s top physical therapy programs in-house. Our team will craft a treatment plan covering all the bases for long-term pain relief solutions. Instead of simply covering up the pain, our goal is to help you overcome it and achieve better overall health.